Empires is a new band of old friends. "It's always felt like things just fall in place for us," says guitarist Tom Conrad. "I think it's a testament to how we approach things and the fact that we were friends long before we were bandmates. We all have different perspectives musically, but there's a collective mindset that makes it all work." As evidence of the collective mindset, both Conrad and lead-singer Sean Van Vleet simultaneously conceived the band name on the same day without one other' knowledge. And with a recording and release process matter-of-factly tackled on their own, Empires' collective kismet and cool confidence translates into a sound that's bigger than their time together as a band might suggest. With having youngest member, Max Steger at the helm of tracking and engineering recording sessions, anything is possible. .... Free from creative restraints, to explore any sound they wanted, and build an identity that was true to their vision, the band spent nearly a year crafting their debut record Howl, which was officially released for free online in May 2008 via their website (weareempires.com). Howl was entirely written, engineered, produced, and art directed by members of Empires. By the end of the year, Howl had earned over 60,000 downloads and landed on a few Chicago critics' top local albums of 2008. The process left them feeling liberated, more focus spent with fans earned than the dollars they could have made had they sold the album traditionally. We've got fans from all over the globe now," says Steger, "It feels like a great way to start a relationship with the listener.".... Building off of the energy and cohesion gained from the Howl sessions, they're back in the studio, working on the follow-up. We've really learned how to work as a band," says Van Vleet. When you strip away all the worries about what comes next, all the crap that just gets in the way, you end up really finding your sound."